Lebanese authorities have announced the arrest of Ismail Mohammed al-Khatib, who is believed to be the top al-Qaida operative in Lebanon. Al-Khatib was arrested September 17th in Beirut, along with top associate Ahmed Salim Mikati and eight accomplices. They were allegedly plotting to assassinate Western diplomats and attack Lebanese security and judicial targets. They were allegedly planning simultaneous bombings of the Italian and Ukrainian embassies in Beirut. Both Italy and Ukraine are part of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.
According to Lebanese prosecutors, al-Khatib was also trying to recruit fundamentalist youth to carry out operations against U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq. Prosecutors say that Mikati was trying to establish al-Qaida cells in Lebanon and had direct contact with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraq’s most wanted terrorist.
Meanwhile, Dutch authorities have announced the arrest of four people suspected of planning terror attacks in the Netherlands. The suspects have not been publicly identified. They were arrested in July in connection with threats against Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and the Dutch Parliament in The Hague. They are accused of making video footage of buildings in preparation for terrorist attacks.
President George W. Bush told the United Nations General Assembly that terrorists are now on the defensive because many countries have banded together to fight them:
“All civilized nations are in this struggle together. And all must fight the murderers. We're determined to destroy terror networks wherever they operate and the United States is grateful to every nation that is helping to seize terrorist assets, track down their operatives, and disrupt their plans.”
The U.S., its friends, and allies are using the tools of finance, intelligence, law enforcement, and military power to break terrorist networks. Since the September 11th, 2001 attacks, says President Bush, terrorists have learned that civilized nations “will no longer live in denial or seek to appease them."